In December 2019, I had the pleasure of attending My Chemical Romance’s historical reunion.
Having been their first public performance in over 7 years, nobody was sure exactly what to expect.
In this article, I’m going to recount the complete experience I had, from beginning to end – sharing as many details as possible that haven’t really been discussed elsewhere. Hopefully, this can paint a picture for you on what the entire experience was like, from the perspective of a hardcore MCR fan.
A Quick Backstory + Getting Tickets
I’m always interested in hearing how people first became interested in My Chemical Romance.
Surely for many of us, we discovered the band during our younger years, when we were going through a particularly difficult period of our lives. It is always refreshing when you can find a band or community that you can connect with, a group of people that seem to understand you and the problems that you’re going through.
I suppose my experience was the same – my first ever taste of MCR came through discovering their music after accidentally downloading it on Limewire. Although I remember thoroughly enjoying ‘Teenagers’ and ‘Famous Last Words’ on my little MP3 player, I never really knew anything about the band or cared to find out.
Fast forward 10 years later, and I reconnected with My Chemical Romance after my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer. It was at this point I really started digging deep into their music, listening through full albums rather than only the hits or singles.
Then shortly after she passed away, I was told that I may have a potentially cancerous tumor growing in my face. It took several months to get surgery so they could explore the mass in my face, in which I spent a lot of time wondering whether or not I was about to die just like my grandmother had.
The Black Parade became my album of choice during that time, and I connected with it in a way that I never had before.
I remember feeling incredibly disappointed that I had really began to connect with MCR, and missed my opportunity to see them live. I know a lot of other fans felt the same way.
I had told my girlfriend, ‘if they ever come back, we will travel anywhere in the world to see them.’
When I logged onto Twitter to see My Chemical Romance trending with an announcement that they were returning, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
When the tickets sold out on the AXS website in a matter of minutes however, I wasn’t surprised at all. And although my girlfriend and I were both in the ticket queue well ahead of schedule, we didn’t even get a chance to buy tickets before they were gone.
Then I remembered about the ‘premium ticket’ option from AXS – where they essentially scalp their own tickets, and sell them for massive markups.
Since this was now the only option, I went through to get in that queue.
I waited some more.
Frustrated, I began refreshing as quickly as I possibly could – knowing that some people weren’t going to checkout, and their tickets would be re-released after their cart expired. After doing this for what must have been 20 minutes. I finally get to see some tickets!
$3,000. Each. Also, you had to buy 2 of them. I was going to do that anyway since my girlfriend was going with me, but still, that is $6,000.
$3,000 each, for tickets that were exactly the same as the ones just being sold for $150.
I didn’t think I could do it. I kept refreshing and would notice that the price would occasionally drop down to $2,500. Knowing a bit about how repricers work, I expected it was based on current demand and available ticket supply, so I waited, and kept refreshing.
Every half hour or so, I would notice that the price would drop $100-250 or so.
4 hours later, the price hit a new low – $1,200 each + processing fees (which were like $200 or something because they were based on price.)
Nervously sweating, I couldn’t decide whether or not to pull the trigger. I’ve gone to a lot of concerts, but this was far more than I’d ever spent on a concert ticket before. Not to mention that I would have to fly to Los Angeles, pay for a hotel, and an entire host of other things.
Then my girlfriend reminded me of what I had said months earlier – “If My Chemical Romance ever return, we’d fly anywhere in the world to see them.”
My words were put to the test, and we pulled the trigger – fueled by the idea that they might not ever do another show again. It really might be our only chance.
The Days Leading Up To The Show
I can’t remember how I found out about it, but somebody made a Facebook group for people who were going to the show, which acted as a nice little community for all of us to talk in.
I flew into Los Angeles on Monday with my girlfriend, with the show being on Friday. We decided to spend 3 days in Disneyland on a whim, which was a nice treat! Strangely, spending more money made me feel better about the cost of the trip.
Anyway, you could tell excitement for the show was building. People began camping out at the venue (‘The Shrine’) as early as Tuesday, which is just insane to me! Admittedly, I wasn’t there. Yet you could tell people within the group couldn’t contain their excitement and hey, I couldn’t blame them. As we’d later find out, for a surprisingly large percentage of the audience, it was their first ever MCR show.
The Night Before
The night before the show is when the excitement really began to pick up. Other than the fact that there was only one day left until My Chemical Romance’s historical return, a few other things sparked the excitement even further:
1. A Huge Fan Get Together
Sadly, I didn’t know about this until it was too late! There was a huge get together at a bar near the venue. If any other people that went to the show happened to attend this, please let me know more about this experience as I’d love to include it in this article. From what I’ve heard, it was a great time and lots of new friends were made!
2. Secret Show?
I’m not sure what sparked this, but there was a huge rumor that MCR were doing a secret warmup show at a smaller venue somewhere in Los Angeles. I believe this actually ended up being the band Thursday.
Many people were panicking trying to get tickets, then trying to sell them when they found out it wasn’t My Chemical Romance at all.
Thank goodness for that, because I honestly would have been pretty upset about that!
3. Sound Check
Later at night, around 8-10 PM if I remember correctly, people began hearing the band do a brief rehearsal and sound check. Videos popped up from fans waiting outside The Shrine with audio from the band.
— Nessa ✨ (@vml1999) December 20, 2019
Some sound check I managed to peek! pic.twitter.com/wWAjEnFNvG
— wikkid (@hail0fbulletz) December 20, 2019
The sound check songs included:
- Thank You For The Venom
- Vampire Money
- Mastas Of Ravenkroft
- Skylines And Turnstiles
- Make Room
- House Of Wolves
- Welcome To The Black Parade
- Na Na Na
4. The Band Came Out To Greet Fans
It an incredibly cool surprise, the band came out and gave MCR blankets to the fans that were camping out at the venue!
Upon hearing this news, I had to kick myself for staying cozy in my hotel room rather than hanging out with other fans at the venue, but hey – live and learn. Fortunately, there were other people that recorded the event and published it on Twitter!
— Gerard Way FUN ☂︎🕯️ (@GWayFUN) December 20, 2019
One thing I noticed while watching the videos is that the band had somebody recording as well with a professional camera. And while there didn’t seem to be any extensive filming done during the show (except for a couple cameras held in a fixed position pointing at the stage) it does make me wonder if there will ever be a documentary made about the reunion, similar to Life On The Murder Scene.
Time will tell!
The Day Of The Show
My girlfriend and I got to the venue at about 3:30, several hours before the doors would open at what I believe was 8:00 PM.
When we got there, the place was already packed, with a very long queue both for the venue as well as for the merch truck. Press was everywhere, which only added to the massive, historical feeling of the show.
After buying myself a shirt (the same one I saw Ray Toro wearing once he took the stage!) I went with my girlfriend to go get in the actual line.
Right in front of me, a woman dressed as a nun was asked to be photographed by Rollin Stone.
For next couple weeks after the show I looked to see if that picture was published anywhere, but unfortunately I couldn’t ever find it. I secretly positioned myself so I’d be in the background of the photo, hahaha. Oh well. Looks like I will have to find some other way to get published on the Rolling Stone website. 🤣
While I was near the entrance, I saw two different sets of girls get denied entry. I can’t remember why, but I remember thinking that the reason was stupid, and the girls were crying hysterically. I felt very bad for them, and hope they ended up making it in.
Honestly, the whole venue had some really weird rules, especially with what people were allowed to bring it. They made people throw away their lipstick.
Anyway, one of the greatest parts of the show was the people, and the atmosphere. This was something I’ll always remember. I’ve been to a lot of concerts, but you could just tell that the people that were at the show weren’t ordinary fans – they were superfans.
People had flown in from all over the world. I met and talked with people from tons of different states, Canada, U.K, Sweden, even New Zealand and Australia! Some people I tried talking with didn’t even speak English.
I don’t like traveling, but my flight was only 2 hours. Some people really sacrificed a lot to make it to The Shrine that day, and it really put things in perspective.
We had a lot of time to kill, so my girlfriend and I spent it getting to hear a lot of stories from other MCR fans. As time went on, excitement grew, but so did people’s nerves. I blame this primarily on the poor venue – with poor choices for food and drink, and toilets that ran out of tissue and soap far too quickly.
But hey, that didn’t matter as much as seeing My Chemical Romance back for the first time in over 7 years.
When the doors finally opened, they let a bunch of people in from different sections of the line at once – essentially screwing over the people that were there way before everyone else. A lot of people were really upset about this as the fans developed a number system so everything remained fair when they had to leave for food / drink / restrooms, but it is what it is.
There isn’t a whole lot to say about the pre-show, to be honest. I got to see more of the crowd, and was happy to see that there were fans of all ages in attendance. While the majority of the crowd was probably in their 20’s and 30’s, there were plenty of people that were older, and plenty of teenagers as well. It really goes to show how diverse the fan base has become!
Although we got in pretty close to the stage, we were off to the side and it quickly got too packed for my taste. I am a master of working my way through pits, so my girlfriend and I decided we’d be happier going back a bit further to start out where it was less crowded, and we could be more center.
By the time Thursday came out for their opener, the place was crowded. Their performance was great and they clearly understood the significance of the occasion – they seemed honored to be there and put on a great show. Not a lot of people seemed to know their music, but we enjoyed it none-the-less.
After their set ended, we were all excited for My Chemical Romance to come out – especially once the famous curtain appeared.
At some point, the crowd noticed that Umbrella Academy’s Aidan Gallagher was on the balcony. He waved at the audience several times, and we cheered.
Apparently, Panic! At The Disco‘s Brandon Urie as well as Gerard Way’s daughter Bandit was in attendance also. I didn’t personally see them, but other people did!
If you’ve watched any recordings of the show, you could only imagine what it felt like when the introduction came on.
If you were close enough to the stage, you could see the shadows of the band members coming through the curtain. The first one I probably noticed was Frank Iero.
Then, the audio clips started coming on, and we knew it was about to begin.
The energy in the venue was like a spaceship about to blast off. It was incredible.
The curtain dropped, and there they were. My Chemical Romance, in front of us for the first time in over 7 years.
As is typical for rock shows, the crowd slammed themselves forward like a brick wall hurling towards the stage. To a lot of people who weren’t used to this kind of behavior, it shocked a lot of people. In fact, a lot of people mentioned afterward in the Facebook group how intense, rude, and ‘crazy’ (in a bad way) that the crowd was.
Personally, I didn’t feel like that at all. It felt only a bit more intense than what I was expecting, and given the occasion, I don’t think anybody was acting out of line.
But, I understand that many of these fans haven’t been to shows like this before, and it certainly shocked me the first time I experienced it.
Of course, it didn’t help that they played so many bangers right at the beginning, like Thank You For The Venom, Give ‘Em Hell Kid, and House Of Wolves.
Like everyone else, I was in a constant state of singing, headbanging, and grooving with the music. The venue was freaking hot and I worried for a moment that I was going to pass out – especially since I lost my water bottle by the 2nd song.
But hey, that’s part of the fun!
If you haven’t already, I strongly recommend watching the multi-cam show I’ve linked to above. Here are some stand-out aspects of the show that I really appreciated.
- Every fan knew every word of every song. Even the less popular ones. This isn’t common, even for sold out shows. I may never get to hear people singing with the same passion on some of the less popular songs than I did at that show.
- The band looked like they were really taking everything in. You could see it in them, how much it meant to them to receive such a powerful reception.
- Although I was disappointed that the show wasn’t professionally recorded like some of their other shows were, I understand the reasoning behind it. And looking back on it, the fact that there weren’t cameras anywhere did make the show seem more intimate.
- The setlist was fantastic. They played a great mix from all different albums, and many songs that weren’t commonly played live before. And although my favorite MCR song, Dead! didn’t make the setlist, I had absolutely no complaints.
- At one point, Gerard asked the crowd how many people were seeing My Chemical Romance for the first time. Spoiler alert – it was most of the room. Gerard seemed genuinely shocked.
- We got to hear Welcome To The Black Parade played in a different key for the first time.
- Mikey played a bass solo and the crowd cheered for him.
- Ray Toro looked happy as heck. It warmed my heart. You can see it in the video too, he looks like he is having the time of his life and the giant smiles you see throughout the show were wonderful.
After The Show
I don’t think there was a single person who wasn’t awestruck by the performance.
I also think we all knew we wouldn’t have to wait 7 years to seem them again. We knew the band had a great time, and could tell how much the show meant to us.
The crowd dispersed quickly and a lot of us hung out on the streets and in nearby stores for quite a while after the show ended. Then we went our separate ways back to our hotels.
The next day, I decided to visit the church where Helena was recorded, as some people had mentioned in the Facebook group that it wasn’t more than 20 minutes away from where we were staying.
I was surprised to see how many other MCR fans showed up during the short time I was there. Unfortunately since it was a weekend, nobody was allowed inside, but lots of people took pictures and walked up and down the stairs, which was neat.
My girlfriend and I ended up talking with some girl that flew in from the East Coast for about a half hour about the show. Despite the fact that it was over, it was neat to still be running into other MCR fans.
It didn’t end there, though.
Since we weren’t planning on returning to Los Angeles anytime soon, my girlfriend and I also decided to stop by the Los Angeles Museum of Natural History as well as the Science Center.
Believe it or not, we ran into two different sets of MCR fans there as well! I recognized the merch they were wearing from the show.
Seems like other people had the same idea that I did, hahaha.
It felt a little surreal considering how big the city is, but I felt that was really neat and added to the overall experience of the trip.
Overall, this was a experience I don’t think I will ever forget.
I have been to many concerts in my life, but this one was probably the most significant. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to attend it, and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my experience about it here.
If you have any questions about the show that I can answer for you, please feel free to ask them using the comment form below. I still remember the day vividly, and would be happy to share anything else you’d like to know.
Thanks, and I hope you’ll get to see My Chemical Romance again yourself very soon!